What Is A Face Fit Test?
Ever wondered what exactly is involved in a face fit test for a “dust mask” or indeed why you need one? Once again, it’s time for 1974 Rapport Ltd to dispel a few more myths…
It’s a common misconception that a Face Fit Test is a costly and complex procedure that somehow involves moulding or modifying a mask to the wearers face; simply not true!
It’s a relatively simple, quick and effective method to demonstrate if tight fitting respiratory protective equipment (RPE) does or does not create an effective seal to the wearers face; if a mask does not create a seal, if does not protect the wearer, an alarming percentage of masks simply do not fit the wearer.
Aside form the ethical & moral reasons for protecting the Health and Safety of workers, the simple illustration below explains how UK Regulations & HSE guidance make it a mandatory requirement to face fit test those wearing close fitting respirators & filtering face pieces. i.e. ANYONE wearing tight fitting RPE MUST receive a face fit test.
HSAW 1974 > MGMT 1999 > COSHH 2002 > PPE 1992 > HSG53 > INDG479 > Fit2fit Companion
There are two common types of fit test used in the UK; The Qualitative method (AKA the” Taste Test”) and The Quantitative method (AKA Ambient Particle Counting (often referred to as the “TSI Portacount” method))...
The Quantitative Method involves the use of instrumentation, the equipment measures an ambient particle count in the surrounding atmosphere and compares this reading to the particle count within the mask giving a “fit factor”. This type of fit test can be used for both full and half face RPE; although the speed and accuracy of this method makes it the preferred choice for professional face fit testers.
The Qualitative Method can be very effective when undertaken by a competent fit tester. A foul tasting solution (Bittrex AKA Denatonium Benzoate) is sprayed into the breathing zone of the RPE wearer, held there by a hood placed over the wearers head. The Bittrex solution in aerosol form is not able to pass through the filter of the mask, therefore if the wearers tastes the solution, a seal has not been achieved and the mask does not fit.
Below, we look in more detail between the two common, HSE recognised test methods...
Either test method incorporates a range of basic exercises to demonstrate that the mask will be effective whilst in use. The fit testing process should be used during RPE selection and should be repeated when either the type of mask or the wearers facial features change, no longer than 2 yr intervals as per fit2fit guidance. Higher risk sectors choose to reduce this time frame further.
Face fit testing should be undertaken by a “competent person”, a list of BSIF fit2fit approved, competent fit testers can be found at http://fit2fit.org/ , Here you will find 1974 Rapport Ltd listed for both methods (and also train the tester courses).
For detailed information on Face fit Testing, the HSE have issued a guidance document INDG479 which is accompanied by the fit2fit companions. The HSE has also offered guidance of how to fit test safely during the pandemic, this guidance has now been adopted as best practice going forward,..
....or, please do feel free to contact 1974 Rapport Ltd for free, impartial, common sense advice.